Toys in the Laboratory: LEGO Models Grow Bones

Proving their delightful resilience and relevance since their 1949 inception, Danish building toys LEGO, have made some headway in the medical field. Researchers at the department of Engineering at Cambridge University are utilizing LEGO inginuity to construct automated models capable of growing artificial bone samples. The monotonous process, one which requires a scaffold to be repeatedly dipped in a variety of different solutions to grow a compound, seemed perfectly suited for the toy's simple, yet effective engineering.

The research team constructed cranes from a LEGO Mindstorms robotics kit, a set which includes micro-controllers, actuators and rudimentary sensors which can be programmed to perform sequential tasks. The scaffold was secured to a string and tied to the end of a LEGO crane, enabling the robotic setup all the tools necessary to perform the repeated and sequential layering needed to grow composite bone.

Check out the official press release, which contains an entertaining and informative video, here: